Steelers ‘Rework’ Eric Ebron’s Contract: Report

Eric Ebron

Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images Eric Ebron of the Pittsburgh Steelers catches a two-point conversion against Jordan Poyer of the Buffalo Bills on December 13, 2020.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have created additional 2021 salary cap space by “reworking” the contract of starting tight end Eric Ebron, this according to Brooke Pryor of ESPN.

Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review notes that such a savings suggests that the Steelers converted almost $5 million of Ebron’s $6 million base salary to a signing bonus and added four voidable years to the agreement.

Before the above-mentioned adjustment, Ebron’s two-year contract was set to expire after the 2021 season. In his first year with the team, he started nine of 15 games and caught 56 passes for 558 yards and five touchdowns. As yet, the Steelers have given no indication that they hope to retain Ebron beyond this coming year.

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Pittsburgh’s Tight End Room in 2021

At the same time, the Steelers currently don’t have much proven NFL talent behind Ebron. Backup Zach Gentry, a former fifth-round pick (Michigan) who is entering his third season in the league, has appeared in just six career games with only a single NFL catch to his name.

The team also has a trio of developmental prospects, led by Kevin Rader (Youngstown State), who made his NFL debut in last year’s regular season finale against the Cleveland Browns and also played in the playoff loss.

The Steelers also have former Jacksonville Jaguars TE Charles Jones II, who signed a one-year Reserve/Future deal in January. Likewise, Dax Raymond is also on a one-year futures contract.

In theory, former Steelers tight end Jesse James—recently released by the Lions after a failed two-year stint in Detroit—would be a good fit in a backup role. But the team’s brain trust may not have forgotten how James referred to the Steelers as “Kardashians” following his last game in a Pittsburgh uniform. He also subsequently predicted that his career would trend upward in Detroit, an expectation that didn’t come close to panning out.

ILB Robert Spillane is (Officially) Onboard for 2021

Meanwhile, exclusive rights free agent linebacker Robert ‘Front of the Plane’ Spillane has reportedly signed the one-year contract offer he was tendered two weeks ago.

Spillane figures to play a greater role in 2021, as the Steelers recently terminated the contract of fellow ILB Vince Williams.

The Western Michigan product was thrust into the starting lineup after Devin Bush suffered a torn ACL against the Cleveland Browns. He appeared in a total of 12 games, contributing 45 tackles, four passes defensed, four tackles for loss, three quarterback hits, two sacks, one recovered fumble and one interception, the latter of which he returned for a touchdown. Then he suffered a knee injury of his own vs. Washington, which landed him on injured reserve for the last four games of the regular season.

Spillane’s agreement comes in the wake of contracts for fellow exclusive rights free agents Marcus Allen and J.C. Hassenauer, who will be competing to replace perennial Pro Bowler Maurkice Pouncey at the center position.

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